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Inexpensive Valentine's Day Ideas

Thoughtful (and Inexpensive) Valentine’s Day Gift  and Date Ideas

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Was your New Year’s Resolution this year to spend less money? If you’re still going strong through January, February 14th may test your resolve to be frugal and save money. We all want to treat the person we love to something special, whether it be Valentine’s Day, their birthday, or just any other day. But cheap Valentine’s Day chocolates from the drugstore rarely make the cut with our loved ones. Even if you both agree you want to save money and do something low key, you shouldn’t phone this holiday in. 

The good news is that some of the most meaningful gifts don’t require breaking the bank, or breaking your resolution to curb spending in 2021. For fun ways to make the maximum romantic impact with minimal impact on your budget, continue reading below. 

Send a Physical Love Letter

In the digital age, the value of an old-school physical love note is heightened. If you don’t live together, it’s an especially great way to send your thoughts, in a way that they can continue to reference after V-Day. If you do live together, consider hiding the note in the bathroom, their purse or bag, or in the car. This playful placement elevates the act and shows that you were thinking about your Valentine when planning the surprise.

Now that you have a Valentine’s Day card, don’t let it do all the talking. Really make an effort to get your feelings out in writing and leave an impression. Or write an inside joke, something that shows you didn’t just buy a card and sign your name. 

A Framed Photo

While the average cost of a professional portrait photographer is $200 per hour, you and your significant other probably have a digital warehouse of photos to pick from (especially if you have been together for a while). You can either use a digital printer like Shutterfly or Snapfish, or even walk into most Walgreens and have your print the same day.

Frames are a great gift that can be bought at almost any home goods store or online for a reasonable price. Make sure you pick one with a little personality and solid construction. A 4’’ x 4’’ frame is a great way to bring a favorite Instagram photo into the real world.

Cook a Meal for Them

Few things in life are as romantic as a homemade meal and date night at home. It’s your opportunity to design a customized pizza pie for your sweetie pie, or a decadent dessert for your honey. If planning a fancy meal from scratch is too intimidating, sign up for a free trial from a meal kit company like Blue Apron, Sun Basket, or Home Chef. You might even prepare a printable ‘menu’ of romantic ‘appetizers’ and ‘side dishes’ for them to order. 

Pick a dinner playlist to have in the background, preferably music that could fade into the background but also evokes a romantic shared memory.

Movie Night

One caveat: Movies at home are a played-out first date option and are not likely to have a major romantic impact. If sparks are just starting to fly and you want to make a stronger impression, look for other Valentine’s Day activities.

If you are a long term couple who are so busy you don’t even make time to watch a movie together, this could be the low key and cheap valentine’s day date option for you. Ahead of Valentine’s Day, pick out something you both have been wanting to see for a while, or a classic that you both know and love. Don’t just turn on Netflix and scroll around for 20 minutes looking for something, have a plan ready.

Give Them a Call During the Day

The lowest cost option of all, just pick up the phone and give your significant other a call. Try to pick a time you know they are more likely to pick up, but you can always leave a voicemail too. You might be tempted to just send a text, but think of how much you already text your significant other. Take it a step further and leave a voice or video message that lets them know that today stands out.  

Make it a Breakfast Date

Trade champagne flutes for coffee mugs. Start your Valentine’s Day on a high note and get breakfast together. Restaurants often set up special dinner menus on Valentine’s Day, but they can be overpriced and overbooked. A Valentine’s Day breakfast can be a much more informal and cost-effective way to celebrate this special day. 

This date should not be a surprise; both people need to know this works with their work or school schedules. If you don’t have a lot of time, you can still do something out of the ordinary and start their day on a high note. Is there a bakery that they really like? Drop by in the morning and pick up a treat before work so they are thinking of you all day. 

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Disclaimer: This blog post provides personal finance educational information, and it is not intended to provide legal, financial, or tax advice.